Dental images - Their use and abuse

  • Leanne M Sykes University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • A Uys University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • C Bradfield University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • Nicolaas W Van Reede Van Oudtshoorn Private Practitioner, South Africa
Keywords: dental images


Patients' exposure to medical and dental radiographic examination has increased over the years,1 with dental X-ray procedures now accounting for almost one-third of all radiographic examinations.2 Although they only contribute 2-4% towards the collective effective dose of exposure, all efforts should be made to minimize the amount taken and to keep exposure as low as diagnostically achievable.2

When considering radiographic examinations, the potential diagnostic or therapeutic benefits to the individual or society need to be weighed up against the possible risks that the exposure may cause, taking into account the "efficacy, and benefits and risks of alternative techniques that have the same objectives but involve no or less radiation".2,3

To this end the acronym ALARA was coined to stress that all diagnostic radiographs should aim to keep doses as low as reasonably achievable without compromising the diagnosis.1 With the advent of digital imaging there has been a trade-off between image quality and reduced radiation dosage. As such the term has been altered to ALADA, as low as diagnostically acceptable, to reflect this compromise.2


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